I am obsessed with 10,000 steps. Walking has always been my preferred form of exercise. I have no interest in gyms, and will run only if chased, but I can walk for miles and my Fitbit® has allowed walking to become a competitive sport, either with fellow Fitbitters or with myself. Getting to the magic 10,000 is easy enough in the summer, there’s enough light before and after work, the weather is usually cooperative, and there are beautiful places to walk everywhere (see links below). The winter is another story; dark and cold before work, dark and cold after work, icy roads and no sidewalks. Leaping over snowbanks to avoid sliding cars is a competitive sport I’m not much interested in. Fitbitters have to be creative in the winter to get 10,000 steps in.
Many days I’d go to Hannaford’s and walk up and down the aisles more than I really needed to, starting off for a gallon of milk, trotting back over to produce for a bag of spinach, cruising back to dairy for cheddar cheese by way of three inner aisles, and then winding my way back to the deli via three more aisles. If anyone was watching my progress through the store from the cameras in the office they would have thought I’d lost my mind. I’m surprised nobody offered me an in-store map or a GPS. When shopping, I’d park my card at the far end of parking lots to force myself to get steps in. (It’s always amused to me to watch people circling around and around parking lots looking for the closest parking space). At work, I’d jog up and down the stairs a few extra times when I was going for coffee, and if it got to be later at night and I wasn’t at 10,000 steps, like all good Fitbitters, I’d find ways to get there before midnight; climbing up and down the stairs at home, jogging in place during commercials, and running 20 or 30 tight laps around the living room and kitchen with the cats watching me like I’d gone mad. Ironically, once I hit the magic 10,000 steps it was like someone had pulled a switch. I’d immediately crash in the recliner, a limp rag. Goal reached and I’d be fast forwarding through commercials instead of jogging through them.
The other side of the obsession is when you walk and your steps don’t get recorded. More than once I’ve gotten to work and discovered I’d forgotten my Fitbit® at home. As all Fitbitters know, this now means that any further walking doesn’t count and there really isn’t any sense in making the extra effort. Plod from point A to point B in as few steps as possible, go for that parking spot closest to the door. There have also been a few times when my Fitbit® inexplicably just doesn’t want to work. One winter day I checked my steps – 8,163. I decided to drive to Walmart, intent on getting my steps in. I spent 20 minutes cruising through the aisles at top speed and got home eager to sync up with the computer, quite sure I had wildly exceeded 10,000 steps. I tapped on my wristband – still 8,163 steps. I could have cried. I don’t know what glitch occurred but after restarting it I just couldn’t find the energy to recreate the missing 1,837 steps. I was done. Recently I walked my favorite five-mile loop and got home to sync up, full of self-righteous vigor. Nothing. Not one step recorded. Battery dead. For two days, I was sub 5,000 steps and in too much of a funk to care.
My newest Fitbit® has the cattle prod feature which I like. If you haven’t walked 250 steps in an hour you get a mild electric buzz in the wrist. I guess they’re trying to encourage us to keep moving through the day and not end up insanely dashing around the house in pajamas at 11:55pm. A great idea but it can be a little disconcerting, especially in the middle of a meeting. Obsessed I may be, but I haven’t yet hopped up and started running laps around the meeting room. I have to say that my Fitbit® has added a whole new dimension to walking. I’ve noticed in my less obsessive moments that on a normal day I walk around 6,000 steps; I have to make a real effort to get to 10,000. Most of the time I do make that effort, the celebratory buzzing from my Fitbit® when I hit 10,000 steps is a satisfying way to end the day. Would I make the effort as often if I wasn’t being judged by a small electronic gizmo on my wrist? I really don’t think I would and judging by the number of people I see wearing the famous black wristband, I’m not alone.
For great ideas on places to walk check out the following links: